Cutting and Reconnecting Hue Light Strip Plus Segments

71,508

100

23

In the shop they told me it couldn't be done: I wanted to use a Hue Light Strip and cut it in pieces in order to reconnect it according to my own wishes.

In this case I wanted to replace two TL-Tubes that were end-of-life with up-to-date (color able) Hue Light strips plus. These would nicely blend in with the rest of my lighting. And taking a shower with colored light proved quite entertaining.

The LEDS needed to be bright and because the Hue strips produced 1600 Lumen they did qualify. It proved more than enough light for replacing two 56cm TL tubes. And as a bonus, these strips can nicely produce warm white, cold white and all comfortable colors in between. Really relaxing.

But now my problem: for it to work I would need to split the 2m strip into parts and reconnect those. Cutting is supported, as well as extending, but according to the Philips sales person and website, you need to throw away the cut-off part. This implied I would need to buy 6 times 2m of strips and use only 33cm per strip and throw away these 6 times 167cm "unusable" strips. Also it would imply 6 power connectors. What a waste....

Well you don't need to throw away anything and as you can see in the lighted examples: it still works!

Not for the faint hearted and you have to be confident with your soldering iron skills.

I am quite curious to find out how many people actually have cut the Hue Lightstrips Plus successfully. So.... if you did it, leave me a comment, that would be great!

Step 1: Preparing the Cut and Split the Strip

Remove the plastic at the place where the soldering pads are visible.

We will split where the soldering is and not where the cut marker with the scissors are displayed!!!

I started with the last segment of the strip, just in case when it wouldn't work, I'd still have 5 working segments left...Chicken, I admit...

Now comes the second advice: do not cut!!!

By applying heat to the soldered connections, you can split the strip into segments, without cutting anything... By doing this, you end up with the maximum area for re-soldering cable to it! If you were to cut, you would have less then half the length of the soldering pad left, mechanically not a good idea...

And... if you cut where the cutting line is displayed, then you render the remaining part useless, just like the manual says. Not so economical if you ask me.

The picture shows the split strip, just after de-soldering it. I used a reflow heater for this, but a soldering iron also works. Remove the tin, you will apply new tin and create nice and shiny new soldering connections.

Step 2: Connect the Segments

Now it is time to reconnect: I used an CAT5e network cable for this. This has 8 wires, I only used 6 of them.

Initially I aligned the cable like on the pictures, using a clamp to fix the position of the 6 network cable wires. Lateron I just soldered the wires one-by-one, this allowed me to work cleaner. Use a "third hand" , or better use two of these to align the tinned wire with the pad, then apply a small amount of new solder and let it flow nicely.

Important: cut, strip and tin all 6 cables that you use to the same length and match the stripped length of the cable with the soldering length of the soldering pad on the strip. Around 3 mm or so.

Also... Align the segments "as if they were still attached" and make sure the pads are connected as they were originally. Do not mix up / cross over wires. They must all be connected as they were originally, use the color coded wires to make sure! I always combined the two outer pads using a twisted pair of the network cable, I thought these were "ground" and "plus" but do not take my word for it... Needless to say, the segments are "direction" sensitive. They have an incoming and outgoing end. Always connect the "in" side to the "end" of the previous segment. Start with the segment where Philips connected the controller unit. The other end of that segment is your first "end". Mark your segments with a marker if you find it hard to orient them.

Alternatively (when you do not want to solder cables), you can buy pins and headers on ebay or aliexpress. Make sure you go for the 2mm separated headers and not the more common 0.1inch headers. These are the same ones the Philips uses for the extension strip, so you can connect en reconnect individual segments easily, without needing to solder then. (Only for attaching the headers obviously).

The result is a cable connected segment. After making the photo I cleaned soldering pads with a flux remover, so it looked even better.

Take your time for the soldering, do not rush, and make sure you do not introduce any shortcuts. If you do, remove all the soldering tin from the faulty connection(s) and start again. Use as little tin as possible, but make sure it flows properly.

For connecting 6 strips, you need to solder 2x5x6 = 60 connections, so you will learn on the job!

I already mentioned I started with the last strip... I was curious to learn whether it would work, so I first soldered a 3m network cable in between the separated segment and the strip with the remaining 5 segments... Pffffff.... it still worked, my soldering skills were confirmed and 70 euro was not wasted!

Step 3: Mount Strips to Your Convenience

Now the idea proved to work, I installed 3 strips next to each other, slightly shifted to use all the space where the 56cm TL tube used to be. The HUE controller was at the back and I made two units that were connected to each other.

So... I managed to split all 6 segments of a 2m Hue strip and reconnected them in two units with one meter bridged by network cable in between them.

I "broke" one strip in bending it after soldering, this strip is now at the end. I can still use it, but not extend it at that end (only at the beginning of the strip, but in my case this is not necessary).

I did learn that you must be careful manipulating the soldered strip. They are quite thin and not wrapped up in their protecting sleeve.

Oh... and do not start this, unless you are confident that you can calmly make these needed tiny soldering connections (6 on one cm). I found out that if you have a short, the light will work, but not display the desired color. In that case inspect your connections and fix it where you have the bridge between two pads. I had to redo a few that I made in a hurry, and when it was getting late. Better to work on this when you are relaxed and... work one segment after the other and check after connecting each segment. If you find an error, you know it is with your last soldered segment.

I am pretty sure it will void your warranty for the five segments that you attach in this not supported manner. Your only option to claim a faulty unit, is to "cut off" after the first segment (including "your" soldering) and prove that the HUE controller with only one clean strip segment attached is faulty.

5 People Made This Project!

Recommendations

  • Toys Contest

    Toys Contest
  • First Time Author

    First Time Author
  • PCB Contest

    PCB Contest

23 Discussions

0
None
xtreker15

Tip 4 months ago

I ordered extruded Aluminum channel to make a cleaner look. Before putting the strips up, I put hot glue around the solder joints and wrapped the glue with electrical tape to make sure the wires would not touch.

IMG_5415.jpgIMG_5413.jpgIMG_5414.jpg
0
None
evilvillain

8 months ago

Does anyone know the voltage and the order of the light power on the strip?

I am wondering if it's possible to just use this with cheap chinese rgbwwcw light strips with 6 pins, so one controller can control a lot of lights (maybe splicing in more power along the way)

0
None
Kurt S

1 year ago

Has anyone used a Hot air "reword" station on a light strip to remove the solder? If so, what brand? I've heard they are really nice , but I'm worried that it might melt the plastic backing.

I'm planning on trying this trick, but will need to do it several times.

Thanks,

Kurt S.

1 reply
0
None
ruedliKurt S

Reply 1 year ago

Well... I have. I used an 852D SMD hot air SMD rework / soldering station. Google it and find many deals under 90USD send all the way from the eastern friends to your home... I think I got mine from eBay, but Aliexpress, Banggood and dealextreme are all willing to serve you here.

It worked splendidly. Having said that, it doesn't depend in my opinion on the specific station: any will do, I think it is fairly uncritical.

0
None
MartijnD

1 year ago

Nice instructable, keep up the good work! Now I know how to split them already as I just ordered them. Another option for your project would have been to completely cover the inside of the box with tin-sheet-tape and stick the lightstrips to the side as deep as possible, this would give a more diffused light vs shifted separate strips, less hassle and less chance of defects.

1 reply
0
None
ruedliMartijnD

Reply 1 year ago

Hi Martijn, thanks for the feedback. In the box, the strips are already as deep as possible and provide quite good lighting. The existing diffuser scatters the light sufficiently, I doubt you can even notice the shift. I needed to cut the strips, as I could not make the tight u-shape turns and there was simply not more space then 40 cm or so. Shifting the individual strips seemed the nicest way to mount them, it was not more (or less) hassle compared to mounting them next to each other, but I felt it looked better that way.

Good tip on the tin-sheet-tape for reflecting and scattering the light, that can come in handy. Succes met je eigen project in ieder geval!

0
None
Gary and LarryB

1 year ago

I want to buy a base 2m kit (with 2m lightstrip, power supply and controller) and run the lights to the right. Then buy two 1m extension kits connected together and run those to the left of the power connection (run both right and left sides off the same power supply and controller). I'm thinking I could create a "Y" cable that goes from the controller to the right and left side strips. Would that work? What "sex" (male or female) connector would I need at the controller and what "sex" connectors to hook to the right and left side strips?

4 replies
0
None
ruedliGary and LarryB

Reply 1 year ago

I noticed your diagram, with the need for an Y. Personally I would run the cable (extended by an CAT5E cable) along one of the strips and then hook up everything in series.

Having said that: there is a person selling Hue Plus Y splitter cables on eBay, so I assume it is technically feasible. He even connected both cables from different ends: one from the female part and one from the male connector: all hooked up with an Y-cable to the adapter in the middle. This is really confusing me, as I thought there was a sort of "input" and "output" of the strip. If this is indeed NOT the case and it technically really works, it doesn't matter much how you hook them up: in series or with an Y-splitter, since then the LEDS are always electrically in parallel to each other and the box feeds all the individual strips.

The only thing I can imagine, is that Philips made a feature to multiplex the signal over multiple extended strips. They need to reduce the power consumtion per strip when multiple are connected in series, as obviously the adapter is not configured to deliver as much as 5 times the power if you were to connect 10 meters of strip. They mention in the manual that the amount of light per strip is then reduced. Possibly you defeat that by running the strip in parallel, so you would stress your adapter. This is why I would go for a serial solution -or- (in your case) buy two kits: and run them both from "the middle" where you have your single adapter with the foreseen Y cable now (then you also have more light compared to running in series).

Note that you always have the option to solder the connections yourself - or - use 6 pin male and female headers, that you solder on one end and then just plug in the (unmodified) strips. Make sure you only "connect" the pins that were meant to be connected and do not "cross" the wires.

Hope this helps....

0
None
Gary and LarryBruedli

Reply 1 year ago

Ruedli, Thanks for the quick reply. The "Y" splitter cable on eBay(http://www.ebay.com/itm/Y-Splitter-Cable-for-Philips-Hue-Lightstrip-Plus-upto-10m-30ft-Flat-Grey-/272544586484?var=&hash=item3f74ec5af4:m:mzQk3dD2FJW3ei2eMUSeIVg) does seem to do exactly what I'm looking to do. A base kit on one side of the controller with extensions on the other side with the controller in the middle. So I guess I'll give it a try!

0
None
ruedliGary and LarryB

Reply 1 year ago

Well, I unsoldered the connectors, so gender did not matter after that. Having said that: they are connected using data and clock connections, so a Y-cable is not trivial. Cannot say from experience, but I doubt that an Y-cable works. There is no need for a split when you just solder a cable at the end of your first 1m strip to the second one. When I tried this, I used a 5 meter network cable. No problem at all: all the LEDs light up. You are just looking at about 1m extra cable.

0
None
Gary and LarryBruedli

Reply 1 year ago

Hi ruedli,

I wasn't planning on unsoldering connectors or trying to split lightstrips. I need to put the power into the middle of 4m worth of lightstrips, so I was considering running a separate 2m (the one included in the base kit) to the right and then a separate run of two 1m extensions to the left with the controller "Y'd" into both the separate right and left parts.

See attached diagram. I only have access to AC power in the middle, not at the ends.

Are you suggesting that I just create one 4m lightstrip (connecting the base 2m strip plus two 1m extensions) as a single run and connect the wires from the controller to the solder points in the middle of the lightstrip instead of at the start of the lightstrip? I do want the left and right sides to be pretty much butted up against each other and controlled as a single strip. I just need a way of running power into the middle instead of either end.

Lightstrip.jpg
0
None
criticaldefect

2 years ago

You can buy various solder free connectors for coupling wires onto the ends of the generic RGBW strips, does anybody know if the solder pads on the hue strips would line up these or is the spacing different? If so it would halve the risk of damaging the strip, by only needing to desolder and tin the joints then clip them on

5-contact-flexible-light-strip-pigtail-connector-rgbw-strip-connected[1].jpg
1 reply
0
None
ruedlicriticaldefect

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks for the comment, clip ons are indeed an easier to use solution, although you still should desolder to keep the best length for the contact. I looked for those, but could not find any suitable 6 pin clip on connectors. Also the spacing is 2mm and not the more current 2.54mm. I did find and order 2mm spaced header, both female and male. These can be used for making detachable connections, but they took langer from China to arrive than I wanted to wait. If you're confident soldering it is very doable. In my case I did not want to move the strips, so soldering was the most reliable solution for me.

If someone found fitting 6 pin clip ons, it seems 2mm spacing, drop a link here.

0
None
Jimichan

2 years ago

As far as, "you must be careful manipulating the soldered strip. They are quite thin and not wrapped up in their protecting sleeve", you might want to try using shrink tube and/or silicone caulk to cover those. It would reinforce and protect the solder connections.

1 reply
0
None
ruedliJimichan

Reply 2 years ago

You are correct, thanks for pointing this out. Once soldered the strips are more vulnerable when manipulated. In my case, this was not too much of an issue, as I mounted them where they needed to be and I never intend to move them anymore. So I just isolated the connections. If you do not mount them, then yes, reinforcement with shrink tube is a good idea. I'd even recommend adding some thin wood / carton before shrinking it, then you prevent the connection from being bent even better.

0
None
jsprenkle

2 years ago

You might want to change the word 'shortcut' to 'short' in your text. That's the usual term for an accidentally bridged connection

2 replies
0
None
ruedlijsprenkle

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks for the comment, I now fixed the text at step 3 and used " short" instead. Being Dutch, the translation of "kortsluiting", originally inspired me to using shortcut.

0
None
jsprenkleruedli

Reply 2 years ago

You're welcome. Good instructable! I've had problems with those too

0
None
ruedliDIY Hacks and How Tos

Reply 2 years ago

They indeed work great in the kitchen, 1600 Lumen is enough for most, in fact you might want to dim it, not a problem either. I was inspired by to try and cut all segments by this person, who also installed it in the kitchen and cut the strip into two pieces. You can checkout his pictures of kitchen stuff. Note that he didn't desolder, but cut through the soldering pads. Desoldering the pads works better in my opinion.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Hue/comments/3pj9dp/succe...